Intro to Spectral Workbench


PLOTS continues to impress with the quality and accessibility of their work. The software suite they just released to accompany their $30 spectrometer is much nicer than anything i’ve seen packaged with “research” grade specs.

PLOTS Spectral Workbench is the client software for the video spectrometer, and can be found here:

It is in alpha, though with some configuration it should run on Linux, Mac, or Windows. It is free and open source (GPLv3) and requires the open-sourceProcessing environment. Click the “zip” download to get a copy.

To learn how to use the software, see:

Spectral Workbench usage »

It uploads spectra to the open source spectral database at:

Spectral WorkBench (may be renamed)

The website is a place to archive, share, and interpret spectral data. By uploading spectra to the website, you agree to release the data under a Creative Commons Zero license (the equivalent of a Public Domain dedication), which allows for unrestricted use by anybody.

Near-Infrared Camera Conversion

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science(PLOTS) present this surprisingly simple yet  effective conversion of a cheap digital camera into a near-infrared camera. Now why would you want to convert your camera so it only takes pictures of something not visible to the human eye?

Taking photos with IR information can be used to generate NDVI (which stands Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and for NRG images. NDVI and NRG are methods taking the information in pictures and quantifying the amounts of infrared and other wavelengths of light reflected from vegetation. This can be used to evaluate health of vegetation by comparing ratios of blue and red light absorbed versus green and IR light reflected. It’s a snapshot of how much photosynthesis is happening. This is helpful in assessing vegetative health or stress. (Read more here:

If you’re interested in learning more about Near-IR or Grassroots Mapping, PLOTS website is a wonderful resource..